Receiving visitors by appointment is not such a recent trend, especially in the public sector. I remember when it was first attempted, back in 1994, and it took a while to be developed as managers believed that they would need more dedicated resources to receive appointments.
Receiving with and without appointment
We understood at that time that we needed to convince those managers and present an innovative solution with the possibility to welcome visitors with or without appointment – all of this with the same human resources. Once this solution was patented, we were able to implement it: firstly at the CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales, a French social welfare service), then in other administrative services, and lastly in the Retail sector.
Online appointment booking
There are now several solutions online which facilitate the appointment booking process without the need for staff to get involved. Customers can book an appointment and choose the service required online – and there may be a quick questionnaire to fill out to help the company to better meet its customers’ needs.
These current possibilities mean that customers can receive a confirmation of their appointment (by SMS or by e-mail), as well as receiving a reminder the day before or just before the appointment to prevent them from forgetting. This, as a result, reduces the amount of missed appointments.
On site, the interactive kiosks allow for quick and automatic appointment recognition via a code, card, barcode, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or even NFC (Near Field Communication). These kiosks will then replace either in part or entirely the initial face-to-face reception stage: advisors are informed at their counter that their next customer has arrived. These kiosks are also able to recognize visitors without an appointment and can direct them according to their needs.
Other forms of customer-advisor interaction
In addition to appointments, new forms of customer-advisor interaction are emerging in all sectors of activity:
- Customers can take a “virtual ticket” via a mobile application, as well as keep up to date with waiting times in real time. Waiting time is reduced or even eliminated, and the customer is free to organize their time as they wish.
- There is the possibility to book virtual appointments (from home, for example), with all the features necessary to make it seem like the customer is there.
These new possibilities mean that face-to-face customer-advisor relations are improved. They are being developed in all sectors of activity: Retail, Public Sector, Telecommunication, Hospitals/Clinics and Finance.